‘Zza Café (formerly ‘Zza Bar) started out as a little hole-in-the-wall pizzeria, and still serves up some of the best pizza in Hyderabad, vegetarian or otherwise.
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Cuisine: Pizza, Italian, pan-Asian | Format: Café-style casual dining | Location: Whitefields, HITEC City | Alcohol: No | IQ’s eco-friendliness score: 3/5
When a friend told us we should check out ‘Zza Bar a year or two ago, we didn’t know what to expect (the name sounded vaguely Middle-Eastern to me). But we were curious, because it was completely vegetarian (at the time), and because it was one of the very few pet-friendly places we’d heard about in Hyderabad. We made our way to ‘Zza Bar, and it was only when we got there that we realized that ‘Zza was short for ‘pizza’. There was an ‘Aaaah, now I get it’ moment! But I confess we had our doubts, initially.
We had our doubts, initially. But once our food arrived, everything changed!
For one, it was a tiny place, and we hadn’t had great experiences with small places like this. Secondly, though we like pizza, we aren’t raving fans like some people we know. But once our food arrived, everything changed! As soon as we bit into the pizzas we ordered, we knew it had to be some of the best—if not the best pizza—in Hyderabad. ‘Zza Bar immediately became our go-to place for pizza (and cheesecake) in Hyderabad.
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New name, new venue, same great quality
They’ve now moved to a larger place in Whitefields, changed their name to ‘Zza Café, and expanded their menu to include non-vegetarian and non-Italian options, too. But that hasn’t affected the quality of their pizza and cheesecake, and those are what keep bringing us back.
Homely, casual and intimate
Zza Café has both indoor and outdoor seating, both with a warm, rustic-chic ambience. The indoor area has quite a few small tables to seat two or four, and has a big glass wall through which you can see the kitchen (and the lovely brick wood-burning pizza oven). The outdoor seating area—by far the larger of the two—has café-style sofas, armchairs and tables, and a large enclosed space which they probably use for parties. Most of the outdoor tables seat six, but if you’re a larger group, they’re happy to push a few together.
The place is located in the back of a ‘co-living’ residential building called Boston Living. Entry (and parking) is through a lane to the right of the building’s main entrance.
Food created with simple ingredients and lots of flavour
There are lots and lots of pizza places in Hyderabad, but I’ll wager you won’t find one that serves authentic Neapolitan pizza besides ‘Zza Bar. I’ve always preferred a thin crust over the heavy, bready pizzas that you get served in pizza chains. But the light, fluffy Neapolitan crust, with a base just firm enough for you to pick up a piece, is something else entirely! Combine that with a few very fresh ingredients and cheese, and you have something really special. And because the oven is right there, you can even watch your wood-fired pizza being made fresh, and rising as it cooks in the oven!
Amazingly, the bread for the sandwiches is actually baked fresh for each order!
Besides pizza, ‘Zza Bar serves quite a few other things, too. Pastas, salads and sandwiches are also on the menu, all fresh and all incredibly flavourful. Amazingly, the ‘puccia’ bread for each sandwich is actually baked fresh for each order! In case you’re wondering, that only takes a few minutes.
And that brings me, finally, to the dessert. ‘Zza Bar has only two desserts on the menu, and they do both incredibly well. Their tres leches, a cake soaked in cream and condensed milk and topped with chocolate sauce, is great. But our preferred option, and one of the stand-outs of the entire menu, is the cheesecake topped with seasonal fruit.
This interesting-looking pizza started as an experiment and hasn’t made it to the menu yet. But ask and you shall receive, and you shall be glad to have received. Because with its crisp crust and soft base, topping of a mixture of olives, mushrooms and other secret ingredients, and loads of cheese, this is one pizza whose equal you will not find in Hyderabad.
Veg ham sandwich
Despite what it sounds like, this sandwich isn’t vegetables with ham; it’s vegetarian ham. As a former carnivore, I can say this mock-ham (that owners Srini and Lien first experienced in a Buddhist monastery) mimics the real thing quite well. So if you’re a new vegetarian who’s trying to fight the craving for meat, this is a great option. Even otherwise, the salty mock-ham goes well with the crisp spinach, fresh tomato sauce, onions and cheese. Of course, all these are stuffed into bread that’s baked fresh, just for you.
If you like Italian food, chances are you’ve eaten cannelloni Florentine before. This one, though, comes across as a more authentic, home-style version of the ones you might’ve eaten in fancy restaurants. Everything is rustic and generous, from the home-made tubes of pasta and the filling of spinach and ricotta cheese, to the loads of tangy in-house tomato sauce and chewy mozzarella cheese topping. If you’ve got a serious cheese craving, this one is for you.
Quinoa and cranberry salad
This light salad is the perfect balance for all the cheesy stuff you’ll probably eat while you’re here. The quinoa grains, shredded spinach (yes they love spinach at ‘Zza Bar, and so do we), nuts and sunflower seeds give the salad a great texture, and the dried cranberries and sweet-sour vinaigrette dressing give it just the right amount of tang. Great to relieve your guilt, or as a light meal on its own.
Seasonal fruit cheesecake
I think it’s safe to say that this is, by far, our most favourite unbaked cheesecake ever. It’s not dense and slightly dry like a lot of cheesecakes tend to be. Instead, it’s soft, rich and light (I know that sounds like a contradiction, but try it and you’ll see what I mean). And the seasonal fruit sauce on top contrasts perfectly with the salty biscuit-crumb base. There’s not much room for improvement on this one, if you ask me!
IQ’s eco-friendliness score: 3/5
Most people sit in the outdoor space when they eat at Zza Café. Their oven is wood-fired, too, which means that it’s more emission-efficient than an electric one would be (think coal-fired power plants generating electricity, of which half is lost in transmission). There’s no plastic in their dine-in cutlery and crockery collection, and they serve paper straws with their drinks. Unfortunately, when we last checked, their takeaway boxes were plastic, and were accompanied by plastic cutlery. Also, the last time we went, we got complimentary plastic bottles of water on our table. Maybe this was because of the pandemic, and they did give us glasses of water when we asked, but it’s still a big negative in my book.
Getting to Zza Café
Zza Café is a little complicated to get to, being some ways off the main road. If you’re approaching from the Cyber Towers side, turn left at the Kondapur traffic signal. Then take the second left turn after the next traffic signal (the one at the Botanical Gardens). If you’re approaching from Gachibowli, take a U-turn from the Botanical Gardens traffic signal and take the second left turn.
Look out for the Boston Living building about 300 metres further, on your left side, and take the lane immediately after the entrance.
The bottom line: Arguably the best pizza in Hyderabad
With arguably the best pizza in Hyderabad, a menu chock-full of fresh and flavourful offerings, and cheesecake that’s to die for, Zza Café ticks all the boxes for vegetarians. It even has mock-meat options for new-vegetarian guests with meat cravings. And knowing that your meal is having a little less of a negative impact on the environment than it otherwise might have makes it even more special.